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Bruce Leslie McLaren (30 August 1937 – 2 June 1970), born in Aucklandmarker, New Zealandmarker, was a race-car designer, driver, engineer and inventor.

His name lives on in Team McLarenmarker which has been one of the most successful in Formula One championship history, with McLaren cars and drivers winning a total of 20 world championships. McLaren cars totally dominated CanAm sports car racing with 56 wins, a considerable number of them with him behind the wheel, between 1967 and 1972 (and five constructors’ championships), and have won three Indianapolis 500marker races, as well as 24 Hours of Le Mansmarker and 12 Hours of Sebring.

Early life

As an eleven-year-old, McLaren contracted Perthes disease in his hip which left his left leg shorter than the right. He spent two years in traction, but later often had a slight limp.

Les and Ruth McLaren, his parents, owned a service station and workshop in Remuera, Aucklandmarker. Bruce spent all of his free hours hanging around the workshop. The McLaren family homestead is located in Ngaruawahia in the Northern Waikato region and still stands today.

Career

Les McLaren restored an aging Austin 7 Ulster which 14-year-old Bruce used in 1952 when he entered his first competition, a hillclimb. Two years later he took part in his first real race and showed promise. He moved up from the Austin to a Ford 10 special and an Austin-Healey, then an F2 Cooper-Climax sports. He immediately began to modify and improve it—and master it—so much so that he was runner-up in the 1957–8 New Zealand championship series.

Grand Prix

His performance in the New Zealand Grand Prix in 1958 was noted by great Australian driver Jack Brabham (who would later invite McLaren to drive for him). Because of his obvious potential the New Zealand International Grand Prix organisation selected him for its ‘Driver in Europe’ scheme designed to give a promising Kiwi driver year-round experience with the best in the world. McLaren was the first recipient, to be followed by others later including Denny Hulme.

McLaren went to Cooper and stayed seven years. He raced in F2 and was entered in the German Grand Prixmarker at the Nürburgringmarker in which F2 and F1 cars competed together. He astounded the motor racing fraternity by being first F2, and fifth overall, in a field of the best drivers in the world.

McLaren joined the Cooper factory F1 team alongside Jack Brabham in 1959 and won the 1959 United States Grand Prix at age 22 years 80 days, becoming the youngest ever GP winner up to that time. He followed that with a win in the Argentina Grand Prix, the first race of the 1960 Formula One season, and he would finish runner-up that season to Brabham. (Forty three years later, another Kiwi racer, Scott Dixon, would become the youngest ever winner in any major open-wheel racing formula anywhere in the world when he won the CART Nazareth (Pennsylvania, USA) 225 when 20 years, 9 months and 14 days old.)

McLaren won the Monaco Grand Prix in 1962, eventually finishing a fine third in the championship that year. The next year he founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd, which remains in the Formula One championship simply as Team McLarenmarker. McLaren continued to race and win in Coopers (including the New Zealand GP in 1964).

McLaren left Cooper at the end of 1965, and announced his own GP racing team, with co-driver and fellow Kiwi Chris Amon. Amon left in 1967 to drive for Ferrari. In 1968, McLaren was joined by another fellow Kiwi Denny Hulme, who had become world champion in 1967 with Brabham. McLaren took his fourth career win racing his own McLaren car at Spamarker in 1968, achieving the team's first Grand Prix win. Hulme won twice in the McLaren-Ford. The championship was also a success, with McLaren finishing 3rd in the standings despite taking no wins. In tribute to his homeland, McLaren's cars featured the "speedy Kiwi" logo.

Can-Am Series

It was in powerful sports car racing where McLaren's design flair and ingenuity were graphically demonstrated. Just as the Can-Am began to become very popular with fans in Canadamarker and the U.S.marker, the new McLaren cars finished second twice, and third twice, in six races.

In 1967 they won five of six races and in 1968, four of six. The following year McLarens proved unbeatable, winning 11 of 11 races. In two races, they finished 1-2-3. (McLaren, Hulme and Mark Donohue).

In he and co-driver Chris Amon won the prestigious 24 Hour race at Le Mansmarker in a Ford GT40.

Death

Bruce McLaren died (aged 32) when his Can-Am car crashed on the Lavant Straight just before Woodcote corner at Goodwood Circuitmarker in Englandmarker on 2 June 1970. He had been testing his new M8D when the rear body work came adrift at speed. The loss of aerodynamic downforce destabilized the car, which spun, left the track and hit a bunker used as a flag station.

Motorsport author Eoin Young has noted that Bruce McLaren had "virtually penned his own epitaph" in his 1964 book From the cockpit. Referring to the death of team mate Timmy Mayer, McLaren had written:

"The news that he had died instantly was a terrible shock to all of us, but who is to say that he had not seen more, done more and learned more in his few years than many people do in a lifetime? To do something well is so worthwhile that to die trying to do it better cannot be foolhardy. It would be a waste of life to do nothing with one’s ability, for I feel that life is measured in achievement, not in years alone."

Legacy

  • Bruce McLaren Intermediate School in West Auckland was named after him shortly after his death. It was originally going to be called Henderson South Intermediate.
  • In 2000 Motorsport NZ and the Prodrive Trust created The Bruce McLaren Scholarship to help up and coming New Zealand racing drivers.
  • Inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.
  • Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Famemarker in 1991.
  • Inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1995.
  • The Bruce McLaren Trust, based in Auckland, New Zealand, perpetuates his memory and runs a small museum from the flat where Bruce grew up (above a petrol station in Remuera)
  • On January 20, 2007, at New Zealand's round of the A1 Grand Prix series, it was announced that there is to be a movie made about Bruce McLaren.
  • The University of Aucklandmarker Formula SAE team, use Bruce's racing number 47 as their car number in memory of Bruce.


Complete Formula One World Championship results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)
Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 WDC Pts.
1958 Cooper Car Company Cooper T45 F2 Climax Straight-4 ARG

MON

NED

500

BEL

FRA

GBR

GER
5
POR

ITA

MOR
12
NC 0
1959 Cooper Car Company Cooper T45 F2 Climax Straight-4 MON

5
500

NED

6th 16.5
Cooper T51 FRA

5
GBR

3
GER

Ret
POR

Ret
ITA

Ret
USA

1
1960 Cooper Car Company Cooper T51 Climax Straight-4 ARG

1
2nd 34 (37)
Cooper T53 MON

2
500

NED

Ret
BEL

2
FRA

3
GBR

4
POR

2
ITA

USA

3
1961 Cooper Car Company Cooper T55 Climax V8 MON

6
NED

12
BEL

Ret
FRA

5
GBR

8
GER

6
ITA

3
USA

4
8th 11
1962 Cooper Car Company Cooper T60 Climax V8 NED

Ret
MON

1
BEL

Ret
FRA

4
GBR

3
GER

5
ITA

3
USA

3
RSA

2
3rd 27 (32)
1963 Cooper Car Company Cooper T66 Climax V8 MON

3
BEL

2
NED

Ret
FRA

12
GBR

Ret
GER

Ret
ITA

3
USA

11
MEX

Ret
RSA

4
6th 17
1964 Cooper Car Company Cooper T66 Climax V8 MON

Ret
7th 13
Cooper T73 NED

7
BEL

2
FRA

6
GBR

Ret
GER

Ret
AUT

Ret
ITA

2
USA

Ret
MEX

7
1965 Cooper Car Company Cooper T73 Climax V8 RSA

5
9th 10
Cooper T77 MON

5
BEL

3
FRA

Ret
GBR

10
NED

Ret
GER

Ret
ITA

5
USA

Ret
MEX

Ret
1966 Bruce McLaren Motor Racingmarker McLarenmarker M2B Ford V8 MON

Ret
USA

5
MEX

Ret
16th 3
Serenissima V8 BEL
DNS
FRA

GBR

6
NED

DNS
GER

ITA

1967 Bruce McLaren Motor Racingmarker McLarenmarker M4B BRM V8 RSA

MON

4
NED

Ret
BEL

14th 3
Anglo American Racers Eagle T1G Weslake V12 FRA

Ret
GBR

Ret
GER

Ret
Bruce McLaren Motor Racingmarker McLarenmarker M5A BRM V12 CAN

7
ITA

Ret
USA

Ret
MEX

Ret
1968 Bruce McLaren Motor Racingmarker McLarenmarker M7A Cosworth V8 RSA

ESP

Ret
MON

Ret
BEL

1
NED

Ret
FRA

8
GBR

7
GER

13
ITA

Ret
CAN

2
USA

6
MEX

2
5th 22
1969 Bruce McLaren Motor Racingmarker McLarenmarker M7A Cosworth V8 RSA

5
3rd 26
McLarenmarker M7C ESP

2
MON

5
NED

Ret
FRA

4
GBR

3
GER

3
ITA

4
CAN

5
USA

DNS
MEX

DNS
1970 Bruce McLaren Motor Racingmarker McLarenmarker M14A Cosworth V8 RSA

Ret
ESP

2
MON

Ret
BEL

NED

FRA

GBR

GER

AUT

ITA

CAN

USA

MEX

14th 6


References



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